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snow on the meadow

A Walk in the Snow

Saturday, 29th December 2001, West Yorkshire

SNOW TRANSFORMS even the drab mid-winter landscape alongside the canal into something magical and fresh. It's good to hear the scrunch of fresh snow beneath our feet again. We can't resist taking more photographs than is strictly necessary as it is rare for conditions to be so perfect. Since the overnight snowfall there hasn't been a breath of wind so the powdery snow remains stacked up an inch or two thick on branches and overhead wires. As we start our walk this morning the bank of grey cloud that brought the snow disappears into the east leaving a sky of intense, pure blue as a backdrop to the tracery of white branches.

We flush five Snipe as we walk along the towpath alongside the marsh. Although ice has formed on the canal in the shady cutting it isn't so cold that the open pools amongst the rushes have frozen solid.

While snipe can still find soft ground to probe other birds are finding it more difficult to find food. A small flock of Lapwings circles over the snow-covered fields of the valley. On a garden lawn a Magpie tosses back the snow with a to-and-fro sideways sweep of its beak to rumage amongst the dead leaves hidden below.

My brother and sister's children hold a snowman competition. Well I say children; they range in age from 8 to 22. The offerings include an uncannily accurate portrait of James by his partner Abby, while Tom subverts our expectations of the medium by producing a snowy version of the traditional summer sand-castle.

And I guess I have to mention our nieces' effort, a snowman from whom I definitely wouldn't buy a second-hand page

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

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